Speech and debate hosts novice tournament

December 11, 2008 — by Abhishek Venkataramana

Hundreds of students dressed in freshly ironed suits and armed with legal pads flooded into the quad on Dec. 6 to participate in the Saratoga High Novice Debate Tournament. The tournament, hosted by the SHS speech and debate team, offered Parliamentary, Public Forum and Lincoln Douglas debate to first year debaters.

“Overall the tournament was a great success,” said head coach Erick Rector. “There were a lot of concerns about room cleanliness, participation, and the running and cleanup of the tournament. But the team really worked together, did a fantastic job and really made this tournament a success for everyone.”

One of Rector’s main concerns was making sure that there were enough rooms for the 300 participating students to debate in.

“We were really pressed for rooms and needed a lot more than what was available,” said Rector. “Luckily all the teachers stepped up in allowing us to use their rooms and because of that we were able to host the tournament.”

In order to accommodate the large number of participants, varsity level students from Saratoga as well as other schools volunteered to help out in judging the novice debaters.

“I thought it was a great experience,” said sophomore Soorya Rangan. “Usually, I am the one being judged, but this time, I actually got to judge someone else. You really get to learn how the judges feel when they are listening to you debate.”

Although the tournament ran smoothly, Rector was disappointed with the team’s uncharacteristic performance. Only one team went undefeated. Ten teams with a total of 20 students from Saratoga participated.

“I had higher expectations at this tournament,” said Rector. “But I have a feeling that the fact that we had student judges, who are more biased to their own style of debate, hurt our team more than anything else. We have good debaters who didn’t go undefeated [that] I think would have done better with a less biased or more experienced judge.”

The only team to go undefeated at the tournament was that of sophomores David and Daryll Chang, who won all three rounds in Parliamentary Debate.

“I was happy that we went undefeated, especially since it was our first tournament,” said David Chang. “This tournament was a good learning experience. I figured out a lot of things that you can’t really learn in practice and that you can only pick up in debate rounds.”

Rector had higher expectations for the team at their next tournament at Santa Clara University on Dec. 12.

Rector believes that the team has improved greatly from the beginning of the season and will continue to do so.

“Each and every day, I see improvement at practices,” said Rector. “But, the most important thing is the idea that we are having a good time, while at the same time learning to debate, working hard, making good friendships,and participating in an extracurricular activity that will help you throughout your life.”

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